First Stop is putting the building blocks in place to steal a march on its fast fit network competitors in 2022, with a number of new automotive centres signing on the dotted line – and a host of existing partners agreeing to five-year extensions in recent days.
As the network aims to grow to 220 centres nationwide by 2024, numbers are continuing to rise, with a partnership announcement with John Stone (Stone Tyres) seen as a huge coup for the First Stop leadership team.
The news coincides with another high profile partnership with Brian Palmer of The Pit Stop garage in Colchester, while three of First Stop’s longest standing franchisees have also agreed to five-year contract extensions.
Drive In Autocentres, based in Rowley Regis and Halesowen, were two of the first independent garages to incorporate the First Stop name, both headed up by Trevor Kelleher, and he is so impressed by the new franchise proposition that he’s agreed to bear the First Stop name until 2026 at the earliest.
Similarly, Laurence Nicholls, owner of Uncle Tom’s Motorist Centre in Harlow, has also agreed to the same extension, as has Stoke Hammond First Stop in Milton Keynes, headed up by Jon Pinney.
The spread of new First Stop partners is growing across the country too, with significant additions in Teesside (Teesside Tyrepower), Cramlington (Cramlington Tyres & Repairs) to Extreme Tyres (Littlehampton) and Freeman’s Tyres (Bournemouth).
It all amounts to a significant momentum shift in First Stop’s favour and a sign of things to come, according to UK Retail Network Manager Mark Widdows.
He said: “To bring in new partners – and industry leading ones at that – is something to be extremely proud of, as our network proposition is clearly resonating with established business owners who know the industry inside out.
“John Stone and Brian Palmer are examples of this and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome them on board. Equally, to have the faith of our existing partners like Trevor Kelleher, Laurence Nicholls and Gary Jones is just as rewarding and another indicator that we are doing the right things.
“We will be building on these announcements in 2022 and already have more agreements that we are working on right now.”
In announcing the news of Stone Tyres’ partnership, owner John Stone said: “I pleased to announce that we’re part of the First Stop network. It is exciting times for us all. It is hugely beneficial to have the backing of a massive, massive company with a fantastic reputation. They have a true independent on board who strives for the best quality and service every time.”
Meanwhile, Brian Palmer said that the decision to team up with First Stop would allow him to provide an even more memorable customer service. He confirmed that he only entered into an agreement because First Stop could match his own ambitions.
He said: “I’m a people person and I only work with businesses with good people. I have known First Stop’s retail director Mark Widdows for many years and he is one of the best.
“I made the decision to become a First Stop partner because of Mark. He knows me, has looked after me in the past and I have every faith in what he is looking to achieve. He understands how I work and his solutions will put me in an even better position to meet the needs of my customers.”
For more information about First Stop and becoming a member, visit the Join the Network page.